3 Jun Football Head Coach Season Review
One very noteworthy appointment to the Game Academy happened last November when former Leeds United manager David Hockaday took over as Head Coach of the Football Academy at SGS College.
When he arrived, SGS College were seventh in the South West Counties Youth League and had yet to register a point in the Elite Category One League.
In hindsight, we can now say his arrival on the scene has had a transformative effect on the fortunes of the Football Academy.
The team won 17 out of the 19 games left in the South West Counties Youth League and only finished three points behind the eventual winners Poole Town. They also recorded home and away victories over Forrest Green, who rejoin the ranks of the professional clubs in the Football League in the coming weeks.
Additionally, in the Elite Category One League, the first team averaged two points a game which would have seen them comfortably in the play-offs had they not had such a poor start before David’s arrival.
Speaking to David Hockaday, we found out how he affected such an impact is his first year at SGS College.
“I try to run the academy as I would a professional football club even though it is youth team.
“The first thing any manager does is go in and improve the fitness level and we have got the players fitter, stronger and more organized.
“I have tried to create a work ethic culture, but we had to recognise where we were and how we were going to improve it. The answer was hard work, so we worked harder with the ball and we worked harder in the gym and the intensity of training went up.
“Also at the start they also weren’t technically good enough so every day the players did repetitive ball work and they continue to do that.
“Since I have come in the response has been really good. The willingness of the players to take on board instructions from all the coaches and go out there and put it into practice.
“From this we have gained a confidence, not an arrogance, a confidence and we started to believe that we could beat every team.
“To average just under two points a game in the Elite Cat One League is almost promotion form and we would have guaranteed the play-offs had we done that from the start.
“We turned about the results but more importantly, the turn around in performance and belief has been incredible.”
David also gave some insight into how he instills a competitive culture through competition in the squad.
“Every time we go out we will try and win the game. Everyone starts from scratch and I pick the best players. It is as simple as that.
“The easy thing is getting the jersey. The hardest thing is keeping the jersey because there is somebody now wanting that jersey.
“It creates competition that we didn’t when I arrived. If you have the jersey, it is an achievement and it means you deserve it. You aren’t given it, you have to earn it.
“In any walk of life if you are good enough, you are old enough. I don’t have any favourites. It creates rivalry where we didn’t have any and there were a number of calls that were tight. I say to the players ‘I don’t pick the team, your form picks the team and I just write it on a piece of paper.’ ”